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One of the many important milestones babies achieve is pointing. By a year, most toddlers can draw attention to something by gesturing at it. Understanding the pointing skills of a 12-month-old toddler can help parents do more to develop their communication skills further.
For most adults, speaking comes naturally and we don’t think anything of it. But for babies, the process is preceded by other methods of communication like sounds and finger-pointing. If your child is nearing a year, you may have noticed her beginning to point. It’s her way of communicating and it’s important to learn what she’s trying to say.
Getting to Know the Baby Pointing Finger Milestone
Like adults who point to draw attention, babies do the same. However, since their vocal skills are undeveloped, pointing for them can mean more than simply trying to get attention. Here are a few interpretations:
1. “Look, mum! See what I see!”
By a year old, your baby is becoming quickly aware of her surroundings. The world has become a big place full of interesting things. She could be excited about trying to get you to see something she’s noticed. Share this new experience with her by looking at what she’s pointing at and naming it. It helps you bond and can develop her communication and social skills too.
2. “I saw something there once!”
The pointing finger sign doesn’t only mean your toddler is trying to get you to see what she sees. She could be remembering something she saw at a particular spot. Now that she’s noticed that same spot, she’s recollecting what she’s seen. You can guide her towards more communicative methods by clapping while speaking to her. Say ‘clap’ as you clap so that she slowly learns to associate the word with the action.
3. “I want that”
Not being able to ask for something verbally means that toddlers will try to draw your attention to their needs by pointing to what they want. This toddler communication can sometimes be hard to interpret, especially if they’re pointing at one thing among many. What you can do is look at where your child is pointing, touch the object, and name it. If it’s safe to drink, eat or play with, you can give it to her too.
4. Red Flags
While every child develops at their own pace, it’s important to know when to seek help. These are some of the warning signs to look out for in a toddler aged 12 to 18 months:
- Doesn’t respond to familiar sounds and their own name
- Doesn’t call attention by pointing or flapping
- Doesn’t look at something when named or pointed to
- Doesn’t look for objects after seeing that they’ve been hidden
A child’s communication skills can only develop properly if the people around do their best to teach. The aim should be to get a toddler to progress beyond pointing gestures. Waving goodbye, being able to point to parts of the body such as the nose, eyes and mouth when asked to, and vocalising when excited are just a few things to try.